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NSO's Consumption Expenditure Data Shows Rural Poverty Rose to 30%

Consumption expenditure numbers reported by the National Statistical Office (NSO) suggests that rural poverty rose nearly 4 percentage points between 2011-2012 and 2017-12 to 30 percent, according to a Mint analysis.

There was a rise in rural poverty even as urban poverty fell 5 percentage points over the same period to 9 percent.

The estimated overall poverty rate increased by nearly a percentage point to 23 percent in 2017-18, owing to higher weight of the rural population, the report said.

This indicates 30 million people fell below the country's poverty line over the past half a decade.

The government, on 15 November, announced that the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation had decided not to release the results of the all-India Household Consumer Expenditure Survey conducted by the NSO during 2017-2018 due to "data quality issues."

"The ministry is separately examining the feasibility of conducting the next consumer expenditure survey in 2020-21 and 2021-22 after incorporating all data quality refinements in the survey process,” an official statement had said.

Business Standard had published the findings of the report which showed a drop in consumer spending for the first time in more than four decades on weak rural demand.

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Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha Record Biggest Rise in Poverty Among Larger States

An analysis of the NSO report said Bihar had the highest rise in poverty between 2011-12 and 2017-18, with the poverty rate rising by a huge 17 percentage points to 50.47 percent.

Jharkhand, where the Assembly polls are currently underway, witnessed a surge in poverty by 8.6 percentage points. In Odisha, the rural poverty shot up by 8.1 percentage points.

The analysis indicated that more than 40 percent of both Jharkhand and Odisha fall below the poverty line.

On the contrary, West Bengal (6 ppts fall), Gujarat (5 ppts fall), and Tamil Nadu (5 ppts fall) recorded the biggest fall in poverty among the large states over the same period.

Maharashtra saw the biggest increase in poverty by roughly 5 percentage points among the prosperous states.

The analysis is based on a couple of simplifying assumptions and should only be treated as rough estimates of poverty in the country, the Mint analysis said. However, the broad conclusions as well as the key trends are unlikely to change regardless of the methodological tweaks, it added.

(With inputs from Livemint & Business Standard.)

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